Rewards Offered in Kidnapping of Man in San Gabriel

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Authorities sought public help today to solve the kidnapping of a man from a shopping center in San Gabriel, where he may have been lured in connection with a business deal.

Ruochen ``Tony” Liao, a 28-year-old Chinese national residing in Santa Ana, was kidnapped about 7:30 p.m. July 16 from a shopping plaza in the 100 block of West Valley Boulevard, the FBI reported.

The FBI and a family attorney held a news conference this morning at the Westwood Federal Building to seek public help and announce rewards in the case.

Liao's family is offering a reward of $150,000 for information leading to his return; the FBI is offering a reward of up to $25,000 in the case.

Witnesses told the FBI that three men of Chinese ethnicity were involved in the abduction, and they were riding in a black SUV. Authorities said the suspects demanded a $2 million ransom from the family, which was not paid.

A witness described one of the suspects, known only as ``David,” and authorities released a composite drawing of the man, described as 35-40 years old and about 6 feet tall. He speaks Mandarin.

Liao is Asian, 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 130 pounds, and has black hair and eyes.

Liao was working at a Costa Mesa luxury-car dealership, and was kidnapped after possibly being lured to San Gabriel to conduct a business deal, according to the Orange County Register. It was unclear what other businesses he might have been involved in, the newspaper reported.

"Our hope is that Tony is still alive,” said Gene Kowel of the FBI. ``We're operating under the premise that he is still alive, which is why this reward (and) this publicity is so crucial to the case. However, we do become concerned as these cases progress, the chance of someone remaining alive can diminish.”

Matthew Lombard, an attorney representing Liao's family, said: ``He's a deeply loved person by his family. He's their only child, and they're very, very concerned for him.”

Anyone with information on the case was urged to call the FBI at (310) 477-6565.

Photos: Los Angeles Sheriff's Department

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